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Can Gratitude Make You Healthy?

I’m a self-help book junkie. If you were to scan my book shelf, you'd find everything from books on health, business, success, and faith. I’ve never been one to open a book that took me to a world of fantasy and fairytales. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with enjoying those stories, but I find my attention turning to books that leave me convicted, seeking truth about myself, and looking for ways to better my life. I guess my thought is, there’s always room for improvement, so why settle? Sitting down with a tea, and opening up a hard copy of one of these books makes me feel so accomplished. While there are many books that top the charts, there is one that'll forever stick out to me, as it helped change my perspective on life. The book is “One Thousand Gifts” written by author Ann Voskamp. Voskamp, a Christian woman and mother, teaches the reader how to find light and gratitude in even the most difficult circumstances in life. At first, I thought, no problem I’m grateful. However, I soon realized it was in the act of learning to give thanks, and practicing gratitude in the difficult moments, that things began to change. 

For the entire month of November that year, I wrote each thing I was grateful for. It wasn’t always something crazy and moving. In fact, as I look back in that journal, I gave thanks for slow mornings, homemade lattes, paleo pancakes, and the hardships God was pulling me through. As time passed, I began to find gratitude in even the smallest of things, my world became a bit brighter, and things that didn’t seem so glorious became brighter with each day. This idea really got me to thinking. If we all gave thanks, and found joy in the “little” things, would we be living a better life? A life that would be healthier just from having a grateful heart and positive outlook? 

Gratitude is defined as the quality of being grateful or thankful. An article written on WedMD says, “Throughout history, philosophers and religious leaders have extolled gratitude as a virtue integral to health and well-being. Now, through a recent movement called positive psychology, mental health professionals are taking a close look at how virtues such as gratitude can benefit our health. And they're reaping some promising results.” The article also talks about how gratitude can help with stress and even boost the immune system. Other studies show gratitude helps with sleep and even exercise. While I can’t say there are any studies that link gratitude to curing disease, some studies argue it can help keep your body and mind in a better state of health. As a health coach, I completely agree. I find those who sit with a positive mindset can take their healthy journey to a completely different level. In fact, this is often where the changes take place. Clients begin to see they are beautiful where they are in this moment, instead of feeling sorry for themselves, and doing nothing about the things that they are unhappy with. It’s the joy, happiness, and gratitude that can make this journey enjoyable and positive. 

I want to share a few things that I do to stay thankful, even in moments of life where I’m not sure where I’m headed. The truth is, we ALL have something to be grateful for. You may be reading this thinking, she has no idea how hard my life has been, or how can she understand the struggles that I am going through. You’re right, we all have different hardships that can make life “tough,” but if you can find gratitude in the breath you just took, the eyes you have been given to read this, and the freedom to live your life as you please, then you DO have something to be thankful for. It’s a choice that can change your life for the better. To not only offer yourself happiness, but possibly better health, within your mind and body. Here are a few of my favorite ways to stay GRATEFUL.

JOURNAL

Grab a spare journal and log little moments of gratitude and joy that you experience throughout the day. These “nuggets of joy” do not have to be monumental or extreme. These bits of joy can simply be like the things I mentioned above. Maybe it’s a sunrise, a freshly fallen snow, a cup of hot coco, or even a smile from a stranger. These are the gifts, that when we feel like there is nothing left, remind us of all the little and big things that we can be grateful for. 

GRATITUDE JAR

My husband and I have decided to keep a gratitude jar. We write out little moments that brought us joy that we are thankful for. On New Year’s Eve, we will sit down and open up the moments of gratitude. It’s these little moments that we tend to lose sight of, and forget that we were ever blessed with. What a gift to open this up at the end of the yearand reflect on the amazing things that took place, beyond a pay raise! 

PRAYER

By now, you all now I love me some Jesus! I’m not quiet about it, and yet I’m not pushy with it either (at least I hope not). I’m open about my faith with clients, friends, and you because it is one of the most important aspects of my life. It has made every bit of a difference in moments where I have felt lost, unspoken for, and even unsure of my purpose.  Through prayer, questions are answered, and God brings everything full circle. It isn’t always the answer I want, but it eventually leads me exactly where I want to be. Offering thanks to God is one of the most beautiful feelings you can bring to yourself. It’s recognizing that it’s because of HIM that you have been blessed with everything around you. 

GIVE THANKS

Looking someone in the eye and telling them how grateful you are is powerful. Whether it be for a gift, kind gesture, or simply for their support. It can mean the world to someone, who may feel like all that they do goes unnoticed. A smile, a moment to tell a stranger thank you for holding the door, or telling your spouse that you're grateful for all that they do. Showing gratitude and offering thanks can make someone feel loved and valued. Try it! 

So, can these habits of giving thanks and being grateful make you healthier? I think so! I believe a positive mind, leads to a positive body, which leads to a healthier lifestyle and outlook. Take note of this area of your life, ask yourself if you are grateful or filled with complaints. Either way, adding this to your plate is nothing but beneficial. Take it from me, gratitude can often be what’s missing from the positive life that's right in front of you! 

How Pregnancy Changed my Prefect Healthy Plan

In the blink of an eye, our whole world has changed. It’s a change that brings me excitement, nervousness and a whole lotta’ joy! I wonder what he or she will look like or what this sweet baby will grow to love. While I say many prayers over this growing bump, I feel so grateful for this journey. A journey that has changed everything and it all started on one sweet summer day. 

My husband Evan and I have been married a little more than four years. If I had a dollar for every time someone asked us when are we going to get pregnant since tying the knot, our little peanut’s college fund would be pretty comfortable. For those who don’t know me, I’m a planner. I have both paper and electronic planners, which I live by. Naturally, we knew the goals we needed to accomplish, and where we wanted to be in our marriage, before taking the plunge to become parents. This summer drew near and we both felt God tugging on our hearts to take a leap of faith and begin this next chapter of our lives. NEVER in a million year did we think we would become pregnant right away. I mean, we were just kicking back, having fun, and then BOOM! 

I remember the first day I started to feel a little different. I had worked at the news station that morning, met with clients afterwards and then held a corporate health presentation. My day, which began at 3:00 in the morning, started to wind down at about 1:30 in the afternoon. My husband and I were headed up north to visit some friends. I remember feeling so nauseous and exhausted. As we packed up the car, I told Evan that I just HAD to have Chick-fil-a chicken nuggets. Now, if you know me, you know I preach eating a weekly cheat meal. However, this wasn’t a planned treat for me. This is something I felt like I needed in order to feel better. Hilarious! I specifically remember thinking, nothing else in this whole world sounds as appealing. Okay, this is WAY out of character for me and I've never said this to my husband before! Evan fulfilled my request and I felt better. This was the first sign that something was off. We returned home that weekend and the changes continued growing. I remember telling my bestie Aisha during one of our many summer walks that I was exhausted. On top of the exhaustion, certain foods just didn’t sound good. Foods that I LOVED eating no longer sounded appealing. Aisha said, “You may want to take a pregnancy test.” Shortly after, I had taken an awesome workout class, which left me feeling like I was going to be physically sick. Maybe it was just the hard workout that left me sick? Regardless, I thought I better take a test, just in case. I mean, what are the chances we would become pregnant on our first try? So, off to the store I went. I returned home, took the test, and within minutes I found that our lives would change forever. 

My husband returned home and we had some errands and shopping to complete. I casually walked into the kitchen where he was rummaging around and said, “We will need to stop at Baby Gap during our shopping.” Evan responded, “Okay.” He asked, “For who?” He looked up at me to find a big grin on my face. Evan excitingly said, “Wait, for us?” I shook my head yes! It was that moment that I told him Baby Rankin was on the way! He ran over, gave me a big hug and kiss, and off we went grinning from ear to ear. 

Before finding out that we ourselves were expecting, I remember my “plan” for when I would become pregnant. Remember that whole planning thing I’m obsessed with? I would eat super clean, never touch anything bad for my baby and workout just like I had been doing. Boy, was I in for a complete surprise! My perfect plan took a different turn, and while I still work hard to be healthy/fit, this baby has had different plans for the way everything would pan out. This is especially true during the first semester. The exhaustion took over my body, which was a huge adjustment for me, as I am a very energetic and on-the-go type of a person. I also experienced a change in food cravings and nausea, mainly during the evening and at night. Wow, this is no joke! While I know many mamas-to-be have it much worse, it still wasn’t easy. On a positive note, I did appreciate the confirmation that something was happening with each symptom. I guess you could say I considered the first trimester woes a blessing! 

So, I let go of what my “perfect pregnancy” looked like and started to listen to my body on a whole new level. I think this is the first selfless act as a parent. As women, we give up our bodies, so we can bring new life into this world. It’s letting go of our bodies and needs, and turning our mindset over to that sweet baby growing ever so quickly in our wombs. It’s BEAUTIFUL! While God and my husband are my first priorities, growing this baby is too! I want nothing more than to do everything I can, to ensure that I’m giving this sweet baby everything needed to thrive. 

Food and fitness are still a priority, but in a whole new way. I still aim to move my body and increase my heart rate six days a week. While exhaustion has made it challenging, the goal is to walk or get on the elliptical during each of these days. During our outdoor walks, I have added one pound weights to my wrists. It allows me to burn extra calories and amps up the burn. I also feel like it brings a little extra focus and attention to my arms. I also have continued to incorporate weight training, but in a much different way. I have lightened the weight used and also focus on certain areas of the body a bit more. I put a large focus on areas that I feel started to change right away. 

There were a few moments during the first trimester in which I recall thinking, how do women do this? I sit here giggling to myself as I break into my second trimester, thankful that I was still able to accomplish my daily tasks. As a health coach, I am constantly encouraging people to eat healthy. It’s a BIG part of what I focus on, because I truly believe in the power of food, and how it makes us feel. It’s the most powerful drug on this planet. It impacts our physical health, fights disease and illness, balances our mood, and gives us the energy to thrive on a daily basis. As a mom-to-be, I have the power to give this baby what it needs to grow properly. It isn’t simply about me and my body’s needs, it’s also about this little baby growing inside of me. How cool is that? So, I’ve worked really hard to get my daily whole foods requirements in, follow (most) of the pregnancy “food rules”, and drink plenty of water. There are days when I’m fighting to get my vegetables in. There are days when I only want fruit. I’ve added more whole grains and eggs to my diet. I used to stick with mostly egg whites and vegetables for egg based meals. However, there are SO many nutrients in the yolk for expecting moms. I’ve put aside what I want, listened more to what my body needs, and responded to my best ability. I’ve been lucky that my cravings haven’t been weird. I’ve thankfully craved a ton of fruit, whole grain toast and eggs, and ice cream. I try to limit the ice cream and eat organic/dairy free choices. However, that isn’t ALWAYS the case and that’s okay too. 

My goal is to embrace every bit of this journey. Yes, there will be scary and challenging moments, but I also know God has blessed me with a wonderful gift. I promise never to take this opportunity for granted. My passion is to continue sharing/educating people on living a healthy lifestyle, but my job is to create a healthy and safe space for our baby to grow. I also want to encourage other mamas in the making to listen to their bodies and accept the ever growing changes. Our bodies were created to do this and are brilliant enough to tell us what it needs. That’s pretty cool if you ask me. As this journey continues, and my body continues to change, I’m reminded that living a healthy lifestyle means letting go of perfection. it reinforces my stance that all we can do is try our very best and give our bodies what it needs to do what God has given us the ability to do!

LET IT GLOW! BY: CAY STOUT, Licensed Esthetician

Healthy tips for glowing skin all summer long! Sunny days and breezy nights -‘tis the season to show off a little skin. You’ll glow from head to toe all summer long with these three quick tips from The American Academy of Dermatology.

HYDRATE

Water is essential to maintaining optimum skin moisture and delivers essential nutrients to our skin cells. It replenishes our skin tissue and increases its elasticity helping delay the appearance of signs of aging like wrinkles and fine lines. Hydration also increases our metabolic rate and helps our digestive system to flush toxins from our bodies. This in turn gives us healthy and glowing skin! For supple and dewy skin, drinking enough water is more important than applying topical creams. In addition, adequate hydration helps combat skin disorders like psoriasis, wrinkles and eczema. A simple way to increase your water intake - keep a refillable bottle with you – when you’re out and about or just around the house!

REDUCE OR ELIMINATE SUGAR

Eliminating sugar (all forms) protects the elastin and collagen to keep our skin plump and smooth. Research has shown that a diet high in sugar can damage these molecules, leading to wrinkles and sagging skin. Researchers in the Netherlands and England evaluated the facial photos of 602 volunteers. After accounting for “actual age, smoking, weight, body-mass index, sun damage, and insulin function, people with the highest blood sugar appeared older than those with the lowest levels.” Other studies have also shown that higher blood sugar levels can destroy the skin’s collagen an elastin. No bueno! To combat those sugar cravings that can creep up on us all, sip on something yummy like one of Jenna's glowing green smoothies!

INCREASE YOUR INTAKE OF ANTIOXIDANTS

Antioxidants are beneficial compounds found in fresh fruits, vegetables, teas, nuts, grains and some poultry and fish and are known to protect our body’s cells from being damaged by free radicals. They are not just good for our general health but are also beneficial for our skin. When we consume foods rich in antioxidants, our bodies absorb the vitamins, which play an essential role in caring for our skin and body. Antioxidants affect our skin from the inside and can provide great protection against the damaging rays of the sun. Vitamins C and E encourage also cell growth. Since our skin is constantly shedding and regenerating, antioxidants will help renew the cells and maintain our ‘glow’. By improving the health of our skin and renewing its appearance, antioxidants help keep it firm and toned. A particular type of antioxidant that is found in green tea is known to increase our metabolism and circulation to our skin cells. This property provides for an anti-inflammation effect. It helps fight acne and even out our skin tone together with preserving our skin’s texture. It’s easy in the summer to get what our skin is craving! Head to your local farmers market, toss a fresh salad, or take in a Glowing Green Smoothie!

IT’S MY (30TH) BIRTHDAY, AND I’LL DRINK COFFEE IF I WANT TO

HOW DO YOU START YOUR DAY?

Since getting back into the news business, my days have changed quite a bit. I used to start most days by reading a verse in the Bible, but my early wakeup calls have changed that. It now comes later in my day or on the way to work. My alarm clock goes off at 3 a.m., and I rush into my kitchen to take down some lemon water. It’s so important to hydrate after a good night’s sleep. I start getting ready while my cup o’ joe brews. By the way, I never listen to naysayers who try to argue coffee is bad for you. I’ll take a healthy cup of joe without added sugar any day! I usually follow my water with a freshly pressed juice (Neuroflex Juice co. is my favorite!) and a quick protein bite of some sort (hardboiled egg, protein bar or nuts), and then I take on the day. I usually enjoy my coffee on the way to work. 

WHAT IS YOUR MANTRA?

I love declaring my 2017 mantra loud and clear. It’s to be ALL IN! A very inspirational woman (Miss Jess) shared this concept with me before I took on my current position at Channel 11. Boy, did it make a HUGE difference in my life. When you’re all in, you aren’t trying to move on to the next part of your day. You’re present and giving 100%. This can apply to so many areas of your life beyond your career. I’m obsessed with this mindset. 

DO YOU COUNT CALORIES?

Never. I believe if we eat the way our bodies have been created to eat, within the proper portion sizes, then one shouldn’t have to count. I get that counting calories and macros can be beneficial at times. If you’re competing, working towards a weight loss or gain goal or simply trying to be mindful of what you’re consuming, it can definitely play a key role. Otherwise, I like to keep this healthy lifestyle as simple and enjoyable as I possibly can. I don’t have time to count or weigh, and even if I did, I can guarantee it would get old for me.

HOW MANY DAYS A WEEK DO YOU WORKOUT?

I usually aim for six days a week and most likely will get in at least five. I like to give my heart a good pump and body a good sweat sesh on the daily. I work out to stay fit and healthy, but also because it makes a huge difference in my mood. When I don’t work out, I simply feel off. It is that moment I give myself to connect with my mind and body. It allows me to escape the worries of the day and release those feel good endorphins. It truly makes a huge difference in the way I respond, sleep and eat. I love it, and that’s why I try to move my body in a way that feels good. I’m not good at following health and fitness “rules”. I allow my body to guide me, and I play off of that. I change up my workouts each week and eat particularly for the way I’m working out. 

WHAT IS THE BEST LIFE LESSON YOU’VE LEARNED?

The people you surround yourself with make THE biggest difference in your life. This sounds so cliche, but it is so true. I try to distance myself from people who don’t encourage me or challenge me in the right ways. You want  to surround yourself with people who make you a better person and who value you at the same time. When people don’t show you respect, it’s time to cut your losses. The people we spend time with each day make a huge impact in our lives. Be cautious, and choose wisely. With those same words, make sure you’re offering others the same respect you want given to you. It’s a two-way street! 

WHAT ARE YOUR FAVORITE BOOKS?

I love non-fiction books. I feed off of self-development and growth. I love sitting down and learning something new, especially when it comes to health. One book that affected me as a woman and the way I view life is 1,000 Gifts by Ann Voskamp. She explores the area of gratitude and giving thanks which allows you to see life so differently. I read this book while living in Germany, and I have to say it made a HUGE impact on my life and the way I show gratitude. I also love Crazy Sexy Diet by Kris Carr, a cancer survivor, who takes on how we should eat, drink and think.

IF YOU COULD TELL WOMEN ONE THING, WHAT WOULD IT BE?

Stop worrying about what everyone thinks of you, and start being confident in who you are. I guess that’s sorta two things. Either way, very important things. My goal when working with women is not only to show them how to balance their lives and incorporate good/healthy habits, but also to show them how they treat their bodies will truly impact their confidence. Every woman should walk into a room and radiate confidence. She should be confident about the way she looks and feels. We often burn our energy worrying about the most ridiculous things. We have to let go and be ourselves. If people don’t like you for who you are, then you don’t need them in your life. 

DO YOU EVER EAT UNHEALTHY?

Yes, and so should you. I know this sounds crazy coming from a health coach,  but when you eat clean most of the time, it’s okay to enjoy an indulgence or two. We actually need a mental break from eating so healthy. I usually give my mind and body a break by incorporating at least one cheat meal into my weekly plan. When I cheat, I go all out. Lately, I’m obsessed with a good quality burger with all the toppings and french fries. I try to aim for quality “cheat” choices. Eating a cheat meal doesn’t mean you have to go for a low grade meal option from your local fast food joint. Also, take time eating and enjoying it. The key? You have to jump back on track RIGHT AWAY! 

DO YOU SPEND A LOT OF TIME IN THE KITCHEN?

Yes, I believe getting hands on with our food is key. I wouldn’t say I spend hours each day cooking and preparing. However, I spend a good chunk of time prepping each week and making sure my food is ready and somewhat prepared for the next day. I enjoy making healthy recipes that you can find right here (click on the recipe link above); however I like to keep it simple. Healthy food should and can be convenient and delicious. I like to combine the two. Oh yeah, I usually don’t make recipes that require a long list of ingredients. Ain’t nobody got time for that! ;) 

AT THE AGE OF 30, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?

What wouldn’t I tell her? I look back on who I was and realize I had such a far way to go. I still do. Isn’t life funny? God knows us so perfectly that he puts certain things in our lives to mold us. I love the way he has worked in my life and the way he has shaped me as a woman. I can’t say that I would have said this five, or especially ten, years ago. I don’t think I truly liked who I was back then. I didn’t know who I was. I was a young woman going through the motions. I now see the beauty of loving yourself and others in such a different way. I can say I know what I want, and, for the most part, I feel like I know where I’m going in life. While I choke down the number 30, I have to say there is so much beauty that comes with age. I’m grateful for each year and the lessons learned along the way! 

A New Year's Resolution: To be All in

It's the season for setting resolutions and promising change in the new year. It becomes an adjustment that we hope to keep for the next 365 days and maybe even beyond that. It's the modification that we seek in hopes of bettering ourselves, becoming healthier, and potentially even finding a happier place. For some of us, it's letting go of the bad, and for others it's incorporating habits that bring more balance and peace. While there certainly is no right or wrong resolution, I definitely think there are ways to keep them going all throughout the year. It's so much more than losing those pesky 10 pounds or committing to a social media free night after dinner. It's a change that can truly impact you as a person and the people around you. Let me encourage you to make the most of it, to be all in, and to connect with yourself for the next twelve months.  

Deeply connecting with ourselves, is rarely something any of us are taught to do. In fact, I was just telling someone the other day how I didn't truly learn to connect with myself until moving away from home where I knew no one. I would spend many days exploring a city, shopping, and driving all by myself. For those of you who know me, you understand that this was challenging for me. I absolutely LOVE being around people and no doubt can hold a conversation with just about anyone who crosses my path. However, those quiet moments forced me to be silent (like, really hard for me), meditate on my life, and think about what was going on. It was the first time in my life I was able to pause and reflect. I started to understand my feelings, what I needed and where improvements needed to be made. 

That connection turned into journaling, reading a lot of self-development books, and setting goals as if it were my job. My little desk here is accompanied by sweet and colorful journals that come packed with ideas, thoughts, and plenty of emotion. It's where I have learned a little more about myself and connected on an even deeper level. Next to those journals, you will find my paper planner. Yes, I'm old fashioned. While electronic ones are great, I still love a good ol' paper planner. Beyond my schedule, I use it to set goals, write quotes that inspire me, and keep important notes. I also use it to plan out each year. As 2017 kicks off, this is the perfect time to do just that. An intention or goal without a plan is rather useless if you ask me. In this new year, start by writing at least three goals you would like to accomplish. Each goal can be broken down, detailing the action steps needed to get there. Keep it practical but set the bar high. I started this two years ago while living in Germany. My business was just a little over a year old and I knew if I wanted to take things to the next level, I needed a plan. Keep the goals in a place (like a planner) where you can see it. It's great to remind yourself of what you're working towards. 

This brings me to my most important part of this post. This year came with challenges and many wonderful blessings as well. One of those blessings happens to be the most recent addition to my career. I was given the opportunity to get back into broadcasting and I did. Sure, I was so excited but also had a fear of what it would be like. Would I be good enough? Will people accept me? The crazy thoughts that surely didn't come with anything but self-doubt and worry. I mean, I preach to people the importance of positive thinking and self-love and here I was doubting where this road would take me. It was in a moment of truth that I brought it to someone's attention. This wonderful woman who everyone refers to as Miss. Jess, knows a thing or two about performance. She was a professional ballet dancer and now runs an elite dance studio in Toledo. I shared my concerns with her about taking this job, and she gave me the most beautiful and rewarding advice. She said whatever you do, just be ALL IN. It made a huge difference in not only in my career but also in my life. Here I was going about my life certain that I gave it my all. I worked extremely hard and felt like I went the extra mile. Not even close. When you truly apply this concept, you are present and not staring at the clock for the day to be over. You make the decision that you are going to give it your all, in every moment. 

When you're ALL IN, you start to embrace a conversation, even with a stranger. You start to enjoy the little things and moments that you normally wouldn't. I go to bed and wake up each morning with a whole new purpose. I'm putting this everywhere I look, and constantly checking in with myself, with the reminder to be ALL IN with whatever I'm doing. It's a concept that can be applied to all aspects of your life, not just your career. It's a mantra that can change the way you live your life, think and even perform. This year, let's learn to connect with ourselves, live life to the fullest and be all in. We have a whole year to write the most beautiful story. Start writing your story now. Start chasing your goals. Start living a life that you truly can wake up and love. You have the power and control to make it happen. 2017 is your year! 

The #1 Way to Stay on Track

This quote says it all. "When you fail to plan, you plan to fail." Here's the deal, unless you have a lot of free time on your hands (which I'm guessing most of you don't), you need to apply this idea and system to your weekly routine. Many of my clients have expressed that they don't enjoy cooking on a daily basis, running to the grocery store more than once per week and wasting food that doesn't get eaten in time. My system of planning and prepping does require a little time and work. News flash, most things that end with a positive result do. The concept is to spend less time during the work week cooking, less money on eating out/wasting food and overall making healthier choices. In my opinion, it's the key to staying on track. 

Step One: Plan out your meals for the week ahead. I suggest finding healthy recipes that sound delicious and don't require a lot of work. Keep it simple and delicious. For healthy ideas, head over to the recipe section right here on www.JennaLento.com. If nothing sounds appealing, try checking out meal ideas on Pinterest. There are so many wonderful suggestions and recipes for you to try. You will want to sit down and write out what you will be eating each day. Consider rotating meals every other day, in effort to absorb different nutrients into your body. After you have chosen the meals for the upcoming week, write out a grocery list for ONLY the items that you'll need. When people tell me eating healthy is expensive, I like to respond by saying, not if you buy what you need and nothing extra. Once you create your list, set aside a day/time where you can grocery shop and prep. 

Step Two: Make grocery shopping enjoyable! Yes, enjoyable! I know this seems like an odd concept, but if you make this a "treat time" for yourself, it won't be such a drag each week. Consider treating yourself to a (non-dairy) latte, tea or dark chocolate. I also pick a grocey store that carries healthy products and good vibes. I guess you could call me a grocery diva! ;) At the grocery store, stick to what is on your list. Remember, you don't need any extra items. This keeps you on track with your health goals and budget too. You should be choosing recipe and food options that keep you mainly on the outskirts of the store. That's where most of the healthy/whole food items are kept. 

Step Three: I suggest prepping your food immediately upon returning home from the grocery store. It's best to budget your time and energy, by doing it all at once. I promise it will be worth it when you spend little time cooking during the work week and more time with your family. Lay your groceries out and organize accordingly. Be sure to pick up plastic containers. This helps portion out meals and keeps things a bit more fresh. This is the healthiest version of "fast food" that you can get your hands on! Doing this right away will also mean food is ready to eat and most likely won't go to waste. 

Shown here are two examples of dinner options that I like to prep for a busy week. I often make healthy taco salads using lean ground turkey. Before serving, I slice half of an avocado over it (healthy fats) and a little organic salsa. The other meal shown is a delicious chicken salad. Before serving this meal, I like to add a few sliced almonds and hemp seeds to it. I usually stick with a homemade dressing or Annie's Organic options. Be careful, even organic dressings can be high in sugar. I also like to wash and cut the rest of my fruit and vegetables that I plan to snack on or eat during the week. 

With my crazy schedule, I truly don't have the time to cook a healthy dinner every night. Making these meals in advance, allows me to grab-and-go and stay on track with my health goals. I love it! Living a healthy lifestyle takes dedication, self-discipline and hard work. It's having a mind that can think clearly, a body that has the energy to get through the day and balance that makes you feel good. Prepping and preparing your food in advance helps support all of these things! It takes a little time and work, but the end result is totally worth it! 

10 Quotes to Encourage Your Healthiest Self

Turn Over a New Leaf

It’s one of the latest health trends everyone’s raving about. I’m talking about a detox or cleanse. It usually consists of a three to seven day juice plan or the removal of all things processed.  The idea is to flush the toxins and junk from your beautiful temple. It’s out with the bad and in with the good. I’ve done a few cleanses myself and have supported clients through them as well. I think most would agree that it isn't ever easy, but certainly worth it in the end. It's the end result that keeps you going.  Your eyes look brighter, your skin is glowing and some of those extra pesky pounds are flushed down the toilet, literally. While this type of cleanse can be great for the body, there’s another type of detox I want to introduce to you. It probably won’t change the number on your scale, but it may help you feel lighter, and happier in other ways. The time to turn over a new leaf, and detox your life is now. That’s right; it’s time to cleanse everything that is weighing you down. It requires you to remove or distance yourself from negativity, drama and any "toxic" things that may be holding you back. Like a juice cleanse, it’s usually not easy but totally worth it.  Let me help you see the big picture. You have one life to live in this amazing and beautiful world, so ask yourself this, “Why am I allowing myself to get bogged down with nonsense that leaves me feeling bad about myself?” It’s not just with people; it’s also about how you think and treat your space. As a health coach, I believe this is a major part of living a happy and healthy life. If this part of your life is out of balance, it’s going to be difficult to be at your best every day. Health doesn’t necessarily mean eating clean alone; it requires a balance to all areas of your life. Here are a few steps I’m encouraging you to remove the toxins and unhealthy “junk" from your life.

Remove or distance yourself from negative people. You want to surround yourself with people who lift you up, help you to thrive and treat you with respect. They should be honest with you yet gentle towards your heart. Distance yourself from people who constantly talk down to you or make you feel as though you don’t have any worth. This should include networks, family, friends and personal relationships. This doesn’t mean you can’t be kind, but distance yourself until your relationship can return to a healthy state.

Turn off your cell phone. Scary, right? I mean what are we to do when we can’t answer emails at 11pm? SLEEP! Go to sleep, you lovely people! The amount of time and energy spent on your phone can add up to hours in your day. Five minutes here, and there, can REALLY make a difference. So, when I hear people complain that they don't have any time, I wonder how much time they would have if they put down their cell phone. Disconnect from the internet, from technology, and spend time the good ol' fashioned way. Being present is SO important. There is nothing worse than being with a group of people who are all on their phones, instead of connecting with one another. 

Connect with your body, trust it, and most importantly listen to it. Am I beginning to sound like a broken record? GOOD! I hope that you're beginning to catch onto this. Our bodies will tell us what it needs, if we just take the time to listen to it. Be mindful of bloating, gas, energy and mood. Also, pay attention to when these moments come on. If you notice yourself running to the bathroom after eating a block of cheese, you may want to refrain from making that choice. It's hurting your body, which means it's hurting you. 

Go to bed early, or at least at a decent time. This is one of those areas that you HAVE to change in order to be healthy. There is no getting around it. Get yourself into a routine that allows your body to rest properly. If you have a hard time falling asleep or staying asleep, try adding a bedtime routine to get yourself into relaxation mode. You can try disconnecting from your electronics, take a warm bath or shower, read a book, write your thoughts onto a piece of paper and save it for tomorrow, or try some bedtime yoga!

Complain less. Your words can be weapons to not only yourself but to others. Do your best to speak with encouragement and love. It doesn’t mean you can’t express your feelings, but choose to do so only when necessary and be sure to think before you speak. Challenge yourself one day at a time. Try going one whole day without complaining and only speaking positive words towards yourself and others. You may not even know you are doing it.

Upon rising each day, let all of your thoughts and feelings fall onto a piece of paper. Early morning thoughts are often the feelings you are struggling with from yesterday or what you have to face within the day ahead. Take a few minutes to write in a journal about how you are feeling. Releasing your thoughts, good or bad, helps you to take on each day without anything filling your mind or taking over your thoughts. It’s like starting fresh before you walk out of the door.

Find your joy every day. This is something I preach to my clients. If you are just going through the motions and living for the weekends, are you really enjoying life? It’s all about joy! It doesn’t have to be something big, just something that brings a smile to your face with each new day. Take a luscious bath, light a candle, enjoy a piece of dark chocolate or go for a walk in the great outdoors. Find your joy and bring it to life.

Remove the clutter from your space. Your home, car and office are a reflection of you and can affect your productivity. As we get ready to welcome a new season, take some time to fit in some cleaning. Remove the items you don’t need or use and donate them to someone in need. Give everything a good deep clean and top it off with a fresh fall scent like pumpkin spice, apples or cinnamon. Organize files, papers and drawers. It’s such a therapeutic exercise that can give your life a fresh look and energized feel.

Doing these things can be just as important as eating a whole foods diet and exercising. As we enter a new season, it's the perfect time to incorporate some or all of these suggestions into your life. It's a great way to balance your plate, work towards better health and find true happiness.

The Secret is Planning & Prepping

I think there are a few secret ingredients to making a healthy lifestyle work. Sure, you need to stay active and eat a healthy whole foods diet. That’s the obvious. Then, you can't ignore healthy relationships, fulfilling career, and faith. It’s what we often refer to as balance. We each need to find a good balance in life. While these are all crucial and important to being healthy, there’s one component that should be revisited weekly. It’s what we refer to as planning and prepping, or food prepping. Yes, it takes a little time, discipline and work, but once it’s done, there’s nothing more rewarding. It’s the KEY to staying on track with this lifestyle. Whether you’re a busy stay at home mama, successful business woman, or all of the above, it will keep you on track with your healthy journey. When I discuss this with clients, I always use the quote, “If you fail to prepare then you can prepare to fail.” In the end it saves on time, energy, money, and last minute poor choices. 

PLAN

This is where it starts. First, you have to budget and designate the time you’re going to accomplish the task at hand. Each week, schedule a time for this and put it in your planner. It’s good to set a time, blocking out at least two hours to get everything accomplished. Make a list of the recipes you plan to make for the next five to seven days, write out the items needed, and keep it on a piece of paper or in the notes section in your phone. Remember, the meals you make can be quick and healthy. Look for simple recipes on www.JennaLento.com, consider a few crock pot meals, and don’t be afraid to cook once and eat twice. I also encourage clients to rotate their meals, so their bodies absorb different nutrients, and also to keep them from getting bored. Keep in mind that you should be sticking to whole food options, very few if any processed options and organic when possible. Once you’ve planned out your meals, put your list together, you’re on your way to a successful week ahead! 

SHOP

Once you’ve mapped out the meals for the week, created your list, and set aside some time, it’s time to hit the grocery store. Before we get into the nitty gritty of shopping, let me say this doesn’t have to be a daunting task. If you’re a busy mom, maybe this is a moment for you to grab a skinny latte, put your earbuds in, and dance through the aisles. Okay, maybe not dance but you get what I’m saying. If you do have kids, this might be a good time to include them. Make a fun game out of shopping, or even use this as a time to encourage their little helping hands to take part in the shopping process. Whether you choose to make grocery shopping enjoyable or not, there are a few guidelines to keep you on track with your choices and budget. More often than not, I’ll have people tell me eating healthy is way too expensive. There is some truth to that. Often, organic and healthier food options can be costly, that is, if you aren’t careful. It's why you need to stick to your list. Think about it. If you aren’t purchasing the extras that you TRULY don't need, you may notice your grocery budget stays the same. I often have clients cut out the processed food choices or pop, switch to whole food options, and notice their grocery bill didn’t really change. The extras add up, so stay away from them. Stick to your list and refrain from wandering down the unnecessary aisles. The general rule of thumb I use includes hitting the outside of the store first. This is where you can stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, lean meat choices, eggs, and nut milk options. It isn’t that you won’t ever find me down the middle aisles, but I usually stick to the outskirts of the store. Also, when it comes to organic choices, if it’s not in the budget, just stick to what you can afford. You can always utilize the Dirty Dozen Clean 15 list from the Environmental Working Group (ewg.org) to guide you on options that can go without being organic. Now that you’ve purchased your whole food options, it’s time to head home and prep right away. Don’t forget your eco-friendly reusable grocery bags!

PREPARE

By now, I know you’re tired and truly just want to stop there. The grocery store was busy, traffic was out of control and you truly just want to enjoy the rest of your Sunday. Let me reassure you that completing this last step will make the week ahead MUCH smoother. It will save you on so much time, energy and work! Unpack those groceries and let’s finish planning and prepping, so you can kick back and relax. Remove the groceries from the bag and sort everything out. If there is anything that needs to be frozen, put it away immediately. From there, preheat the oven, so you can bake your chicken or lean meat of choice. While the oven is preheating, remove all produce from the bags, and wash thoroughly. Pull out the containers or baggies you will store your produce in. Make sure the containers have lids in order to keep the fruits and vegetables fresh for a bit longer. Once you’ve washed everything, begin cutting and chopping. Doing this, will allow you to grab and go throughout the busy week. In the photo above, you can see there are sandwich bags filled with fruits and vegetables. I often prep my smoothie combinations for the week ahead. This way I can dump the bag of health into my Vitamix, add a nut milk of choice or coconut water, blend and enjoy. It takes little to no time at all! So, now that you’ve prepped your produce and neatly organized it in the refrigerator, it’s time to accomplish the protein. I love hardboiled eggs for a breakfast or for a snack on the go. It’s packed with protein, healthy fat and it fills me up! Once the eggs are cooked, remove the shells, rinse, and store in a container in the refrigerator. I like to remove the shells, so I can once again grab and go. The final step is to prep the meat you plan to eat. I usually only prep my meat for the next two-ish days ahead, for obvious reasons. I clean, season, and bake my chicken. If I plan to make chicken salads, I will cut my chicken into cubes. All of this leads to convenience and healthy choices. 

As you can see planning and prepping the food you plan to eat for the week does take some time and work. However, once you’ve completed the task at hand, you will begin to reap the benefits all throughout the week. You will allow yourself to have more time to spend on the things you enjoy, so you don’t have to rush home from work and spend time and energy deciding what to eat and then even more time cooking. It will also prevent you from running through the drive through during those on-the-go days. In the end this leads to better food choices, more time, and success in reaching your health and wellness goals! 

Should you have any questions regarding this post, please feel free to email me at JennaLento1@gmail.com

LETTING GO FOR BETTER HEALTH

        

If I’m being completely honest, I like to be in control. You could say I’m a woman who knows what I want and how I want it. There isn’t much that I’m truly unsure of. Often, I have a hard time taking my hands off of a moment or situation to allow what’s supposed to happen, actually happen. Letting go and releasing control over a person, situation, moment that you can’t change, or career may be one of the healthiest doses of therapy we can ever bring into our lives. The hardest part? Accepting what you need to let go of and then actually letting go. 

In my opinion, when we try to control everything around us, it prevents us from letting go of what’s supposed to happen. This can apply to many different areas. There’s the obvious relationship with a significant other, friend, or even family member that you know isn’t offering anything good to your life. Yet, you hang on in hopes of being the one to change that person. Then you have that one situation in life that you want so badly to turn out how you imagine it, and yet you have no control over the result. So, instead of allowing Jesus to take the wheel (thank you Carrie Underwood), we put ourselves in the driver seat and attempt to manipulate the situation. Not good. Then there’s the job you dread going to but still stick with for all of the wrong reasons. You simply can’t let go because you aren’t sure of where that risk will take you. Scary? Yes, but when one door closes I’m confident another one opens. Lastly, there’s that memory in life that still haunts you. You know, the one you think about on a regular occurrence. That person you would treat differently, that text you wouldn’t have sent, and that decision you shouldn’t have made. It’s there, it holds you back, and it’s invading your space. 

All of this isn’t to say completely cut off your relationships, quit your job, and knock on every door trying to clear your past. It’s simply to say that hanging onto something that you have no control over, can truly put a damper on your mental, emotional, and physical health. Yes, your physical health. As a health coach who works with people to reach a healthier life, I often see a major connection between imbalance in ones life, pain from the past, and choices that were made many years ago. There are painful moments that cause anger, regret, depression and setbacks. These are the moments that we temporarily recover with a quick band-aid to mask the pain and allow us to feel better, even if it’s for that quick moment in time. 

Is there a formula for letting go of all that doesn’t serve us or the things that we can’t control? I wish it were that easy, but it’s not. I think it’s something we may always have to work on. With most therapeutic moments, I feel being conscious of your thoughts, laying your emotions out there and letting time bring hope and healing. It’s taking your hands off of the steering wheel and giving up control. Accepting that life is going to roll out the way it’s supposed to, the way God has planned for you, and there is beauty and grace in that alone. Moments that we all can say we look back on and see the big picture. Moments that allow us to understand why something happened the way it did. While there are some situations we won’t ever understand, at least we can accept that it’s God’s way of molding us to be the person he has created to be. I believe we can all be an example to one another, to help someone, to encourage someone or to simply offer support. 

FIVE WAYS TO BEGIN LETTING GO 

JOURNAL

There’s no better place to let go of those thoughts and struggles running through your mind all day long. Take a few minutes before bed, to write out your thoughts and meditate on how you’re feeling. It doesn’t require a lot of time and it can be so helpful! 

PRAY

In my opinion, the best way to let go of something is to give it to GOD. I firmly believe that God has the perfect plan for us and if we can truly let go and trust him, we can be confident in knowing things are going to work out just as they should. 

DISCUSS

Share how you are feeling with a loved one, friend or even licensed therapist. Simply letting the words out of your body can help you to move forward. Often more times than not, we bottle everything up and can’t seem to sort through the mess. 

ACCEPTANCE

This isn’t ever easy. By accepting something, I don’t mean settle. I simply mean accept that some people are who they are, some situations won’t change, and you have to be the one to make a move. 

REFLECT

Take some time to stop and think through a situation. We forget to do this and often can’t even see the big picture. Stop for a few minutes to check in and see how you’re truly feeling about a situation. Dig deep, think through it and decide what you need to do to be the healthiest and happiest version of YOU!